Letter: Possible innocence is the exception

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Shame on The Columbian for the Feb. 12 editorial "Inslee errs on death penalty: Washington governor's moratorium on executions an affront to state's residents."

No law is absolutely black or white. There are exceptions to every rule. Those exceptions cause the evolutionary changes to the laws over time.

A bad law starts out fairly black or white, but over time and the evolution of smart, educated people's critical-thinking skills, the law moves into the shade of grey and eventually gets far enough over to the opposite side that the law is changed or eliminated.

Because of space constraints, I will use one example: slavery. At one time slavery was legal, and laws supported it. Over a long period of time, a horribly bloody war, a splitting in half of our nation and a very long healing period, we as a nation mostly agreed (a few white supremacists and rednecks will disagree) that slavery was and is wrong.

The death penalty is also wrong. Most advanced nations ban the death penalty and will not extradite a criminal unless we agree not to execute them.

Clark County just paid $10.5 million to two men, Larry Davis and Alan Northrop, for a crime they did not commit after 17 years in prison, and Clyde Spencer was just awarded $9 million for violation of his constitutional right to due process.

A death penalty sentence ends the fight for anyone's innocence, no matter what.

J. Marc Johnson

Vancouver